Sunday 29 March 2015

British Canal Boats

The Narrowboats on British canals are particularly distinctive not only for their shape but also for their colourful hand-painted Folk Art
Originally Narrowboats were built as working vessels to carry goods up and down the canals during the 18th, 19th and early C20th. Their distinctive shape was to enable them to move through the narrow waterways and pass safely via locks and bridges which often have a minimum width of 7 feet. 
As with railways, canals had to cross deep valleys and aqueducts were built to facilitate this
They were originally powered by horses who walked along the towpath attached by ropes and harness to the boat 
The horses were replaced during the early C20th as the boats were converted to steam and diesel. This modernisation enabled the boats to carry more weight and use less manpower
mile-stone along the canal towpath

By the mid C20th cargo carrying narrow boats had largely diminished, but today there are bands of enthusiasts dedicated to restoring both the boats and canals. Some boats are lived in as permanent homes, others are owned for recreation and leisure, and some can be rented for holidays or day trips along the waterways.
Around the mid C19th it became common practise to paint the boats all over in bright colours, mainly illustrated with bunches of roses and medieval castles. Objects used on board - jugs, bowls, lamps, flowerpots for example also received the same treatment. 
No one knows exactly where 'The Castle and Rose Movement' originated. Historians have identified similarities to folk art seen in Germany, Holland, Turkey, Asia, and also to the elaborately painted caravans in the gypsy culture, but no links are known to exist
Steering rudder

 Why not paint yourself a bunch of canal roses!!!
This post came about as a result of a query posed by 'Mary of Oregon' here

Thursday 26 March 2015


While I thought that I was learning how to live
I have been learning how to die 
 Leonardo da Vinci
Three weeks ago my youngest brother died unexpectedly. No words can adequately express his loss......... it will take time
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land:
Christina Rossetti
Today family and friends will gather to remember him, share memories, and bid him fond farewell

Saturday 21 March 2015

Spring Reflections

I love this time of year - Spring is in her infancy, tree sap is rising, and each passing day reveals ever more colour and growth. The sun rides higher in the sky, Gold Finches flit in and out of the shrubs, Blue Tits build their nests, and hopefully we too can hatch our own plans for the coming months that stretch before us.

In our area, the first official day of Spring, gave us a 90% view of the solar Eclipse during 8.00am to 10.00am - after rummaging through several drawers I successfully managed to find the correct glasses. Watching it through the special lenses was brilliant so much better than the one we viewed back in 1999.
The sky was blue and the sun shone brightly; through the glasses we could see the moons passage across the front of the sun clearly and sharply. When the eclipse was 90% total it was as if night-time dusk had arrived, the birds flew into the trees to roost, and there was an eerie silence.  
the special glasses turned the sun bright orange and  the moon and sky black

It was such a lovely morning that we decided to make a day of it, packed a picnic, and headed off down to the canal 
The Lock Keeper's Cottage
All along the canal towpath wild Anemone blanda were flowering
A boat from Wales moored in the canal honouring Shirley Bassey. She was born in Tiger Bay, Cardiff
A male Mallard keeps a close eye on a female
A perfect Spring day

Sunday 15 March 2015

Mother's Day in the UK

 Thinking of my mother♡
She never became an old lady
Or knew all her grandchildren
She had breast cancer in her late fifties 
 Medicine was lacking today's sophistication 
With modern treatment it is very likely 
 She would have lived to become the old lady  
I dearly wish she had♡
A selection of March Helleborus from our garden

Wednesday 11 March 2015

The Duntisbournes

Hidden deep in the Cotswold Hills are four small hamlets each going by the name of Duntisbourne, taking their name from the idyllic Dun Valley named after an Anglo-Saxon chief; the river, although not much more than a brook, meanders through all four communities, down their roads, through their gardens, and over their meadows as it flows onwards to join the River Churn and eventually the River Thames.
The hamlets of Duntisbourne Rouse, Duntisbourne Abbot, Middle Duntisbourne and Duntisbourne Leer all have typical honey coloured Cotswold stone cottages, houses, barns, and share two lovely churches
The River Dun trickles along road gullies into a shallow ford where vehicles cross and then
 continues merrily on its journey across the meadows. 
St. Michael's church, Duntisbourne Rouse

 Sitting on the side of a steep grassy hill looking down into the valley the tiny church of St. Michael is enchanting
Everything is in miniature, the tiny saddle-back tower, Perpendicular with an Elizabethan upper stage and a lovely stone slate roof. The nave is Saxon as can be seen from the typical herring-bone construction in the wall to the right.
A view of the whole church showing the early Norman chancel 

The slope enabled the Norman's to build a crypt below the chancel large enough to house a chapel where, conveniently for us, a seat had been placed - a perfect spot to enjoy lunch looking down over the valley
There is a small cross on the floor of the crypt which is lit by the early morning sun through the glassless small Norman window above the seat 
The church has a calm and serene interior with simple lime-washed walls
Traces remain of C13th medieval wall painting in the Norman chancel
A Norman arch leads from the Anglo-Saxon nave into the chancel
Early Gothic Font
The entrance and exit paths have gates unlike any I have encountered before resembling a pair of scissors
The departing pathway was strewn with early spring flowers